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Ducks @ Sharks RECAP: Anaheim Stays Afloat in Shark Tank

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Playing their second game in as many nights, Ducks have just enough gas to survive on the road.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at San Jose Sharks John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

The Ducks traveled to San Jose to take on the Sharks in the latter end of a back-to-back set. The Ducks would be looking to carry momentum from their 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers in which John Gibson was called upon to make 50 saves. Needless to say Gibson would not be available for tonight’s contest as he is human and needs his rest too ( even though at times his play seems out of this world. ) With the Ducks’ backup, Ryan Miller, recovering from a lower-body injury, the team would look to Reto Berra to somehow fill in for Gibson. Although this would be Berra’s first start in a Ducks jersey, he would receive some encouraging news with the return of Cam Fowler who would be making his first start since suffering a lower-body injury on October 20th. Anaheim would need Fowler’s veteran defensive presence to help stabilize their defensive unit and limit the amount of saves needed from Berra. Here’s a period breakdown of the game.

FIRST PERIOD

The Ducks looked to take the crowd out of the game early by keeping the pressure off Berra and controlling the pace of the game with solid puck movement. However, at 3:31 the Sharks were able to strike first when Joonas Donskoi picked the pocket of Hampus Lindholm at the defensive blue line. Donskoi would be in all alone on Berra and would easily deposit the puck through the five-hole. 1-0 Sharks. (Definitely not how the Ducks wanted to perform in front of a goalie who hadn’t made a start since last April.)

After the goal, the Ducks had some trouble playing pucks cleanly and found themselves in their own zone a bit. However, the Ducks were able to weather the storm and finally were able to regain solid puck movement and improve their play in the neutral zone. They were able to take the crowd out of the game despite the score by controlling the puck in both zones and get out of trouble by making great outlet passes. The best scoring chance for Anaheim in the period came on a long pass from Derek Grant to Corey Perry, who snuck behind the defense and was all alone in front of Martin Jones. Unfortunately Perry was unable to fully lift the puck over Jones’ glove side allowing Jones to make the glove save.

At 7:28 the Ducks would be the first to go on the power play when Justin Braun was called for holding. The power play unit looked decent as the Ducks were able to make solid passes and had great puck recovery. The Ducks were able to generate some traffic in front of Jones but were unable to get anything past the netminder.

Although the period would end with the Ducks trailing 1-0, they actually played a solid opening period on the road. Especially considering the team was coming off a physical contest the night before, Anaheim played with great energy and were able to outshoot the Sharks 10-6.

SECOND PERIOD

The Ducks opened the middle frame with good energy and offensive pressure. It didn’t take long for them to find the equalizer. At 0:45 Brandon Montour would make a solid cross-ice pass to Perry who was all alone on Jones. Jones would have no chance for the save and Perry would find the back of the net. All tied up at 1-1.

At 9:37 Anaheim would get their second power play opportunity when Kevin Labanc would be called for hooking. The Ducks generated solid pressure and would come close to taking the lead on a Sami Vatanen shot that caused Jones to leave a huge rebound that Rickard Rakell wouldn't be able to take advantage of.

As the penalty expired, the Ducks would get their first lead of the night at 11:39. Perry would shoot it in on net causing Jones to dive for the save allowing Rakell to dump in the easy rebound making it 2-1 Ducks.

The Sharks would go on their first power play at the 11:59 mark with a Josh Manson hooking call. Anaheim’s PK unit would come up big only allowing 5 shots on goal and limiting the Sharks from creating any dangerous scoring chances.

The Ducks would play with fire again by taking another penalty at 16:00. Chris Wagner would be called for tripping. The PK unit would step up again like it has all season and would help out Berra by getting in front of shooting lanes and making several key blocked shots.

The horn would sound and the Ducks would maintain their 2-1 lead.

THIRD PERIOD

With a one goal game, the Sharks came out aggressively by winning puck battles and generating a solid forecheck. All the momentum the Ducks had generated from the first two frames would quickly fade as the Sharks were in complete control. The Ducks did their best to weather the push from San Jose but ultimately it caused them to take a penalty. At 7:47, Jakob Silfverberg would get called for slashing. The Sharks would continue their relentless pressure and would tie the game at 8:19 on the power play. Donskoi would find the net for his second goal of the night on a rebound that caromed off the crossbar. Berra wouldn’t be able to locate the puck and the game was suddenly 2-2 with the ice heavily tilted in San Jose’s favor. With the crowd now back in the game, the Sharks continued their push.

Leading to the tying goal, the Sharks had outshot the Ducks by a margin of 9-3. With the Ducks visibly running out of gas and playing most of the period in their defensive zone, the Sharks would finish the period with 20 total shots but would the game would remain tied at 2-2.

OVERTIME

The OT frame started just as the third period had with San Jose applying the pressure. Soon after, the ice would open up allowing both teams to make pushes. However, neither team would be able to generate any solid scoring opportunities and the Ducks were physically exhausted electing to run out the final seconds by holding onto the puck.

SHOOTOUT

The shootout was a fitting end to what was a great game by both teams. This is what makes division rival games so exciting to watch. Both teams would score within the first rounds and Jones and Berra would make solid highlight saves. Eventually the game would come to an end in the 9th round when Antoine Vermette finally beat Jones through the five-hole giving the Ducks a 3-2 win.

Overall it was a solid game by the Ducks when considering their ability to find the energy to survive the third and overtime periods and bearing down to win it in the shootout despite they playing the night before. Berra was big in net allowing the Ducks to stay in the game and he really shined in the third period stopping 19 of 20 shots. Considering he hasn’t won a game since December 1st, 2015, this was a fitting end to a great individual performance.

The Ducks will return to the Honda Center where they will take on the Vegas Golden Knights Wednesday, November 22nd at 7:30PM PST.